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Social Security Survivor Benefits
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When someone who has worked and paid into Social Security dies, survivor benefits can be paid to certain family members. These are monthly, ongoing benefits based on the deceased's work record that continue as long as eligibility requirements are met.

The Social Security Administration should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. However, a death cannot be reported online, and survivor benefits cannot be applied for online. To report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can also visit your local Social Security office.

A summary of survivor benefits is available HERE, or you may continue reading below.

   Applying for Benefits  

The information required by the Social Security Administration while applying for benefits includes:

  • Proof of death - either from a funeral home or death certificate
  • Your social security number, and the deceased worker's social security number
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage certificate, if a widow or widower
  • Your divorce papers, if you're applying as a divorced widow or widower
  • Dependent children's Social Security numbers, if available, and birth certificates
  • Deceased worker's W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return for the most recent year
  • Name of your bank and your account number for benefits to be directly deposited
  Relationship Benefit  
  Widow/Widower (Retirement Age) At full retirement age or older, generally gets 100% of the worker's basic benefit amount.  
  Widow/Widower (Age 60+) A widow or widower that is aged 60 or older, but under full retirement age, gets 71.5-99 percent of the worker's basic benefit.   
   Widow/Widower (w/ Child Under 16) A widow or widower of any age with a child younger than 16 gets 75 percent of the worker's benefit amount.   
  Widow/Widower (Disabled) Benefits can begin as early as age 50 and include 71.5% of the worker's benefit amount.  
  Unmarried Child A child gets 75 percent of the worker's benefit amount if unmarried and younger than 18 (or up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full-time).   
  Child (Disabled) A child can receive benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22.  
  Dependent Parents For parents to be classified as dependents, they must have received at least half of their support from the deceased. A single surviving parent receives 82.5% of benefits, and two surviving parents each receive 75 percent.  
  Divorced Spouse If divorced, a former spouse can receive benefits (at age 60 or older, or at age 50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. If the divorced spouse takes care of the deceased's child that is under the age of 16 or disabled, the age and length of marriage requirement is unnecessary. Benefits paid to a divorced spouse do not affect the benefit rates for other survivors.  
  Stepchild, Grandchild,
Step Grandchild, Adopted Child
Under certain circumstances, additional family members may be eligible for benefits.  
  For more details, please view THIS webpage.  
   One-Time Death Payment  
  A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased. If living apart, the surviving spouse must have been receiving certain social security benefits on the deceased's record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death.  
   Form SSA-721: Statement of Death by a Funeral Director  
  This form is available for download HERE.  

Form SSA-721 qualifies as proof of death for the SSA, and allow Social Security records to be updated immediately. In most areas, Social Security will contact the survivors of a deceased worker once they have received notice of death from a funeral home.

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